We're big believers in open-ended play and encourage it regularly in our home. During imaginative play, your allowing your child to express themselves both verbally and non-verbally. You're allowing them to explore and try different things, and to better understand real-life concepts. It can be a treasure trove of learning opportunities and by encouraging creative play - especially with play dough, dolls, cars, kitchen and other pretend play toys, blocks, loose parts, or even cardboard boxes, you're providing children with great opportunities to learn and further their development.
Here are just a few other developmental areas that can be enhanced as you encourage your child to participate in pretend play:
1. Motor Skills
As your little one is busy mixing, cutting, scooping, rolling, stacking and fidgeting with different parts, they're working hard on their hand-eye coordination and strengthening both their gross and fine motor skills. By giving children different mediums to play with, you're also helping to provide new opportunities for them to practise and develop different motor skills.
2. Language Skills and Vocabulary Expansion
Role playing opportunities in pretend play can be a great way for children to practise their listening skills, following instructions and taking turns.
For example, if you're pretending to cook, take time to explain to your child what you're doing. Describe your actions and the outcomes of certain things and use new descriptive words to explain concepts. From this, they'll better understand the sequence of things and also better enhances their ability to communicate by using a variety of words.
3. Early Math Concepts
Pretend play is the perfect way to organically introduce counting and numbers to little ones. Whether your child is playing with loose parts, cooking/food related toys or building blocks - there are many opportunities for you to expose them to some basic math concepts.
Prompt your child with questions like:
- Which cake is bigger/smaller?
- How many cups do we need for our guests?
- How many blocks do you think we need to make this tower?
- Which one is taller/shorter?
- Which one can hold more/less?
- How long do we need to wait, how many customers do we have?
- How much do I need to pay? How much change do I need to give?
4. Social, Emotional and Cognitive Development
Kid's love imitating mummy and daddy. They're watching how you interact with each other, with friends, the waiter at your local coffee shop, your hairdresser, at the supermarket, at home cooking....you get it. They're always watching and learning from you.
So as they immerse themselves in pretend play, they're in charge of this imaginative world, and they're able to explore different roles and practise their skills all on their own terms.
Our range of pretend play toys is a great way to encourage your child to collaboratively play with their friends, parent(s) and/or caregivers. Try setting up an Afternoon Tea Party with friends, open a barber shop, or even invite some friends for a mini make-over - there's just so much fun to be had!
Encourage play by inviting your child to take turns being a server/customer, write down orders, or work together to prepare food for/serve customers. By immersing themselves in different roles, they're able to better enhance their social and emotional skills.
5. Sensory Experience
What we love about pretend play is that there is no right or wrong way to play. You can use so many different materials and objects; the only limit is your imagination. A cardboard box could be an intricate supermarket, or a jar of play dough could be moulded into a feast fit for your little one and their guests.
By incorporating and manipulating different materials in pretend play, you're allowing your child to engage in their senses and experience different textures. This allows them to employ creative thinking, which can only further a child's development and should always be fostered and encouraged.
We've only just covered the surface on how important pretend play can be for a child, but we hope we've inspired you to incorporate more creative play with your little one. It may seem obscure to us adults, but follow your child's lead and let their imagination take them on a fun little adventure!